Last August, President Barack Obama admitted to the press: “we tortured some folks.” But he also added that torturing people “is not who we are.” His CIA director, John Brennan, calls the CIA torturers “patriots.” So which is it? Are they “patriots,” deserving of our admiration, or sadists who engaged in acts that are contrary to “who we are?”
One of the CIA contractors, James Mitchell, was on TV lately where he was called the “architect” of the torture program. His Spokane, Washington company, Mitchell, Jessen, and Associates, received $81 million in taxpayer money for services rendered.
CIA Director John Brennan argues that people like Mitchell and his business partner, Bruce Jessen, were doing legitimate intelligence work. But isn’t it also possible that these “patriots” were acting out their post-9/11 revenge fantasies against a bunch of Arabs and Afghans who fell into their clutches about whom they knew very little?
Mitchell and Jessen had no specialized knowledge of Al Qaeda or international terrorism; they didn’t speak Arabic or Pashto, and had no experience interrogating prisoners.
What they did know about as psychologists was how to drill down into the human psyche. And they knew how to reverse engineer the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) techniques designed to help U.S. personnel counter torturers. They applied the same appalling techniques to their own interrogations. Given their lack of qualifications to head such an endeavor it’s likely Mitchell and Jessen were just winging it.
Can we get our $81 million back?
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might have “authorized” the torture program, but it’s still a war crime that violates the Convention Against Torture, the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. Letting the people responsible for torture ride off into the sunset free of any criminal charges throws out the window international and domestic law, as well as almost everything we’ve learned from the Nuremberg Trials, Hannah Arendt, or the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
One of the CIA’s “black” (secret) torture sites was located at Guantanamo, which should raise some thorny legal issues because, unlike Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Afghanistan, or Thailand, the Supreme Court has ruled that Guantanamo is considered “U.S. soil.”
Absent any criminal prosecutions, the only conclusion we will be left with is that these guys really are “patriots” and torturing people really is “who we are.” But we shouldn’t need “experts” like Max Boot, Joe Klein, or other apologists for torture to judge the morality of turning to torturers posing as “doctors” to root out suspected terrorists.
The morality and ethics of whether or not the CIA can torture people in our name are non-negotiable. There is no argument that can be made to justify this atrocity. The corporate media are treating torture as if it’s just another “issue” like immigration reform or the federal budget. It isn’t. You cannot justify the unjustifiable. People who attempt to apologize for torture done in their name are embarrassing themselves; raising their heads to be counted as barbarians at the gate.
We don’t fight against terrorists to become more like them, but to maintain our differences. And after all of the criticism the Arab and Islamic world has gotten for being behind the West in embracing the Enlightenment from the Sam Harrises and Bill Mahers, our own government tossed out any semblance of Enlightenment thinking against torturing prisoners going back to Voltaire and Beccaria.
Not long ago Alan Dershowitz was advocating “torture warrants,” whereby judges could issue a legal justification for torture. I suppose that would be better than what we had: the CIA acting in secret and employing contractors to torture people willy-nilly.
Mitchell and Jessen and their underlings weren’t going after any “ticking time bombs.” They wanted to use coercion to get the names of other potential bad guys. The Senate report shows that they routinely kept prisoners in solitary confinement in a dark hole for up to 47 days just to “soften them up” before asking them any questions. So much for disarming the “ticking time bomb.” The report also shows that any real intelligence gleaned from the interrogations came before prisoners were subjected to torture.
One of the creepiest revelations from the Senate report is the description of a torturer who has broken down one of his subjects through water-boarding and other “techniques” to the point where he can merely raise an eyebrow or snap his fingers and that broken human being would willingly go over to the water board and strap himself in. That’s straight out of Orwell’s 1984.
Mitchell and Jessen (and a number of other agents who are still receiving government salaries) engaged in “interrogating” their prisoners with beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, dark and cold or light and hot environments, rectal feeding, rectal hydration, sensory overload or sensory deprivation, and any other humiliating abuse that leapt into their imaginations.
One prisoner under their charge died of hypothermia on a cold concrete floor after being shackled to a post stripped of his pants.
The torture report sort of gave the country another “teachable moment.” But will we learn anything other than how “awesome” is the United States?
In recent news cycles since the report was made public we’ve seen the corporate media clearly go in damage control mode. The networks and cable TV stations apparently see it as their responsibility to provide journalistic “balance,” as if torture is just another “issue” to bloviate about with talking points and a bifurcated “pro” and “con” frame. They bring on their shows people like former CIA director Michael Hayden (who has lied to Congress) and other torture apologists and propagandists to spin the story out of existence.
During the George W. Bush years there was a brief public debate about whether or not waterboarding was “torture.” The late Christopher Hitchens, who was an important intellectual cheerleader for the Iraq War and an advocate for an aggressive “war on terror” wasn’t convinced that waterboarding was torture so he agreed to have it done to him. A few other reporters also willingly subjected themselves to waterboarding as a publicity stunt to “see what it was like.” I doubt if any pro-torture reporter or intellectual would agree to undergo rectal feeding as Hitchens did with waterboarding to find out if it’s really “torture.” We won’t see Dick Cheney on teevee with a blender and an enema bag any time soon.
I’ll ask again: Can we get our $81 million back?
The United States claims to uphold “universal” values such as democracy and human rights while trampling the principle of “universalism,” which holds that all nations, big or small, powerful or weak, must respect international law. Allowing CIA career employees or contractors to get away with torturing people free from legal accountability telegraphs to the rest of the world that the United States reserves unto itself the right to commit war crimes.
Back in the 1920s and 1930s, the Italian fascists used to attack the gastrointestinal tracts of their left-wing opponents by pouring castor oil down their throats or administering castor oil enemas. Rectal feeding to punish and humiliate has been around for a while; but the trains ran on time.
Since it appears that the CIA torturers never will be brought to justice it makes it more likely that sometime in the future, with the nation facing a new peril, a different cast of “patriots” might direct these kinds of “enhanced interrogation techniques” closer to home. Maybe next time their targets won’t be foreigners suspected of terrorism but will be American citizens who hold political views they don’t like. And the black sites, instead of being located in places like Lithuania or Poland, might be in Peoria or Tulsa.
2014 was a great year for teens, with young people creating new social media trends, starting innovative businesses and making incredible art — all while balancing the everyday stresses of being a teen.
As we head into 2015, plenty of up-and-comers are poised to surprise, entertain and inspire the world with their voices and their creativity. Here are 15 of our favorites:
1. The teen activists who have been protesting the Eric Garner and Michael Brown decisions
Teens have been on the front lines of protests against grand jury decisions on the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. From New York to Colorado, hundreds of high school students have marched for justice. Expect them to stay vocal as we move into 2015.
2. Hailee Steinfeld, 18
This teen got her impressive start as the world’s toughest girl in the Coen brothers’ “True Grit,” but we suspect 2015 just might be her year. She’s starring alongside Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson in the much-anticipated “Pitch Perfect 2,” which will be out in May. She has several other films in the works, and recently nabbed a role in upcoming YA film, “The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight.”
3. Alexey, 17
Alexey was a nominee for the 2014 International Children’s Peace Prize for his amazing work on the front lines of the crusade for justice for LGBTIQ rights in Russia. He is one of the most important voices on “Children-404,” an online community for Russian queer teens to share support and solidarity. When the founder of Children-404 came under attack for spreading “gay propaganda,” Alexey formed a protest movement in response, and the case was closed after just a few days. Though he’s been attacked twice during his activism, he continues to fight bravely.
4. Shawn Mendes, 16
After rising to fame on YouTube, this musician’s hit single “Life of the Party” debuted on the top 40 and with an upcoming tour with T-Swift, this 16-year old is set to take off into 2015 at lightning speed. Right now, he’s hard at work on his debut album, due out sometime next year.
5. Brendan Jordan, 15
The charming teen caught everybody’s attention when he vogued behind newscasters reporting on the opening of a mall. The Internet went wild for him, appearances on the talk show circuit followed, and American Apparel just cast in him their latest ad. Of his newfound fame, he told The Huffington Post: “The biggest change, though, is that I can finally be heard. I strongly throw a message out there of equality, freedom, love, self-acceptance and absolutely no judgment.”
6. “Unlocking The Truth” bandmates, Malcolm Brickhouse, 13, Jarad Dawkins, 12, Alec Atkins, 13
A photo posted by Unlocking The Truth (@unlockingthetruth) on Sep 9, 2014 at 5:57pm PDT
First discovered in 2012, the Brooklyn metal band is taking off at lightning speed, playing in huge national festivals like 2014′s Warped Tour. Unlocking the Truth also became the youngest band to ever play at Coachella this year. After opening for bands like the Guns & Roses, the teens signed a 1.7 million dollar multi-album contract with Sony this past July.
7. Willow, 14, and Jaden Smith, 16
The Smith kids have been in the public eye for quite some time, but this year they really started to stump/intrigue us with their kind of amazingly-weird interview with The New York Times. They got some Internet flack for it, but when Vice asked a bonafide philosopher to explain their comments, he called the Smiths “well-educated, if a little New Agey.”
They’re giving us plenty to talk about, but they’re also making some great art: each recently dropped a new album. Jaden won some cred for his album, ‘Cool Tapes Vol. 2,’ and Willow’s three-song EP, “3,” has generated some incredible feedback. Jaden claims he’s got more music on deck, and we’re pretty stoked to see what both Smiths have in store.
8. The teens of “The Arts Effect NYC”
The teen girl theater troupe uses the power of theater to make change through projects like their play, “Slut.” They’ve taken their work around the globe and designed a workshop for sexually exploited youth. Even with so much on their plate, they somehow found the time to respond awesomely to TIME’s proposed feminist ban.
9. Zendaya, 18
The singer and actress first rose to fame with a role on the Disney show “Shake It Up,” and 2015 just might be her biggest year yet. She’s returning to the small screen with upcoming TV show, “Undercover,” which premiers in January and will also be releasing her second album.
10. Jules Spector, 14
The young feminist has been vocal about the potential of teens to change the world in the Internet age. She started the blog Teen Feminist, where she writes about a wide rane of feminist issues. She was also a featured speaker at the 2014 Women Moving Millions summit, and was one of the featured “loud women” role models, alongside Kim Gordon and Natasha Lyonne, honored by the feminist Internet learning startup, “School for Doodles.”
11. Suman Mulumudi, 15
The teen made waves in 2014 for his invention of the game-changing smartphone app, Steth IO, that turns your phone into a stethoscope and heart rate monitor. Now, he’s working on improving Steth IO, developing new medical technology and acting as CEO of his startup, StratoScientific.
12. Becky G, 17
It’s been a big year for the YouTuber-turned-pop-star, with a popular music video, an AMA performance and a opening gig on Katy Perry’s tour. She’ll kick off 2015 with a performance on “Pitbull’s New Year Revolution” broadcast, followed up by her eagerly-awaited debut album release early in the year.
13. Elle Fanning, 16
It’s been awhile since Elle Fanning was known as merely “Dakota’s younger sister.” This past year, Elle was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for her role in the hit, “Maleficent.” Now, she’s gearing up for an even busier 2015, with upcoming film releases for “Trumbo,” costarring Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston and “Three Generations,” in which she’ll portray a transgender teen.
14. Zoey, 12
Not yet a teen, but she will be in 2015! Zoey was one of four stars of Laverne Cox’s recent documentary “Trans Teen,” where she bravely put her life on screen to show America the strife that trans teens face. In the after-show, Zoey and her mom talked to Laverne Cox about the difficult Zoey’s had in school, and what it’s like to be young in a trans-phobic world.
15. Erik Finman, 16
The Internet boy wonder turned a $1,000 check from his grandma into a $100,000 fortune by investing in Bitcoin back in 2012. He used the profits to fund his career as an entrepreneur and started Botangle, an online video tutoring service. Erik dropped out of high school and is now hard at work expanding his empire. He gave an epically inspirational speech at the 2014 TEDXTeen event in London, which you can check out below.
Outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) thinks that obituary writers won’t include one of his most famous gaffes and one of the most memorable moments from his failed 2012 bid for the presidency in his obituary.
The gaffe came during a 2011 Republican presidential debate when Perry couldn’t remember one of three federal agencies that he wanted to eliminate. Pressed to name the third agency by the debate’s moderator, CNBC’s John Harwood, Perry admitted that he couldn’t and simply said “oops.”
When Harwood recently asked Perry whether he thought the moment would be included in his obituary, Perry said that he didn’t think it would.
“It is great political satire and comedy, but it won’t be on the obituary,” Perry told Harwood. “One of the errors that I made was in not being prepared. You know, I was a little arrogant and that had as much to do with my demise as a candidate as forgetting a third agency of government.”
Perry is considering another presidential run in 2016, and told Harwood that he would decide by May or June of next year. Perry has been trying to remake himself as a more humble, wonkier candidate than the one who stumbled through the debate three years ago. As he considers another campaign, Perry has not shied away from addressing his gaffes, but has said that he sees them as a learning experience.
“I am so glad that I held my hand up and said ‘here am I, send me,’ in 2011,” Perry said during a question and answer session after a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in October. “It was one of the most difficult, frustrating, processes I’ve been through in my life.”
Watch the full interview between Harwood and Perry above.
NEW YORK — The CIA provided “inaccurate” information to journalists in effort to shape coverage of its detention and interrogation program, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bombshell torture report.
The report, of which a 500-page summary was made public Tuesday, included graphic details of CIA torture techniques and described how the agency misled the White House and Congress about the effectiveness of the methods in extracting useful intelligence. At times, the CIA also misled the media.
The Senate committee found that author Ronald Kessler and former New York Times reporter Douglas Jehl were provided “inaccurate claims about the effectiveness of CIA interrogations, much of it consistent with the inaccurate information being provided by the CIA to policymakers at the time.” The report also found that a 2005 NBC “Dateline” story, which included both on-the-record and off-the-record claims from intelligence officials, featured “inaccurate” information touting gains from use of torture, according to the summary.
The classified disclosures to Kessler and Jehl were authorized, so there were no subsequent leak investigations, according to the report summary. There also is no record of a criminal investigation into the leak to “Dateline,” suggesting those classified disclosures were sanctioned as well.
The CIA’s public affairs office cooperated with Jehl on a March 2005 article he co-wrote with David Johnston. In the article, an unnamed senior U.S. official claims that “the intelligence obtained by those rendered, detained and interrogated have disrupted terrorist operations” and “saved lives in the United States and abroad.”
The report summary described how the CIA “decided to cooperate again” with Jehl in late 2005 for an article that would have appeared to portray the agency’s interrogation program in a flattering light. According to the report summary, Jehl “provided the CIA with a detailed outline of his proposed story, informed the CIA that he would emphasize that the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques worked, that they were approved through an inter-agency process, and that the CIA went to great lengths to ensure that the interrogation program was authorized by the White House and the Department of Justice.”
Jehl, now foreign editor of The Washington Post, did not comment directly on the committee’s findings, but broadly defended his work during that period.
“As a national security reporter for The Times in 2005, I worked aggressively to pursue and publish stories about the CIA’s harsh interrogation of terrorist suspects, at a time when those details remained highly classified,” Jehl said. “I am proud of the work that my Times colleagues and I did in bringing these CIA practices to light. I was not interviewed for the Senate report, and would never comment on reporting that was based on confidential conversations with current and former U.S. government officials.’’
The leak to Kessler for his book, The CIA At War, wasn’t investigated either, because it didn’t contain “first time disclosures” and because the CIA’s public affairs office “provided assistance” for it, according to the report summary. The CIA cooperated again with Kessler in 2007 for another book in order to “push back” against the FBI. The CIA believed the FBI was overstating its role in fighting terrorism and the effectiveness of its own interrogation of suspects. After consulting with the CIA, Kessler wrote how the agency “could point to a string of successes and dozens of plots that were rolled up because of coercive interrogation techniques.”
“The statements in the revised text on the ‘successes’ attributable to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were similar to CIA representations to policymakers and were incongruent with CIA records,” the report’s summary concluded.
Kessler told The Huffington Post that his interaction with the CIA on these books wasn’t out of the ordinary. He said he had similarly gone directly to the FBI in the course of his reporting.
“I solicited their cooperation,” Kessler said. “Of course they told the story they wanted to tell. It was standard reporting. Nothing nefarious.”
Kessler said the committee’s report is a “fraud” and waste of taxpayer dollars. “When it comes to its effectiveness, Leon Panetta, to me, has closed the case,” Kessler said, a reference to the former CIA director’s past statements on the use of torture techniques.
In his recent book, Panetta wrote that “we got important, even critical intelligence from individuals subjected to these enhanced interrogation techniques.” He also wrote that it’s unknown “whether those were the only ways to elicit that information.”
NYTimes Dealbook’s Dishonest Salvo at Elizabeth Warren Over Calling Out an Unqualified Nominee for Treasury Post
What is striking is the way that Sorkin and his colleagues have launched what amounts to a media war against Warren in defense of Weiss, and have shameless resorted to a drumbeat of Big Lies in the hope that their messaging will stick. The fact that they can’t even mount a proper case on its merits speaks volumes about Weiss’ qualifications for the job.
WASHINGTON — Dr. S. Jaishankar, one of India’s most experienced diplomats, has a knack for being in crucial places at crucial times: Moscow in the early ’80s, the U.S. (as a political attaché) during President Ronald Reagan’s second term, Eastern Europe in the early ’90s, Tokyo in the late ’90s, and India’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2013. He returned to the U.S. as ambassador last year at a time when ties were deepening dramatically between the two countries.
On the eve of the launch of HuffPost India, Jaishankar touched on the U.S.-India relationship, media and yoga, when he spoke with HuffPost via email just before he left for a trip home to India:
Dr. Jaishankar, thank you for taking the time to speak with us on the occasion of the launch of HuffPost India. We’re very excited to do our part in expanding the global conversation. What’s your sense of the role of social and digital media in India today?
First of all, welcome to the party. Clearly, social and digital media have a significant role in India. As in other areas, we see the phenomena of leapfrogging on one hand and co-existence of successive generations [of media] on the other. Professionally, it calls for a different set of skills to make the most out of them.
Well, thanks for using that skill on our behalf. We both can remember when the U.S. and India were wary, distant allies — if allies at all. India was famously “nonaligned” during the Cold War. Now our two countries have moved much closer to each other. I know it’s a complex question, but why?
We have had shared values for a long time. What has changed in recent years is the growing convergence of our interests. As for being nonaligned, its Cold War context is overplayed. At the end of the day, it was about freedom of choice and independence of thought. Both remain relevant even if times have changed. The U.S., I believe, is also coming to terms with the reality that partnerships are more appropriate now than alliances.
India is an “Eastern” country with a “Western” commitment to free speech and democracy. Does that give India a uniquely important role in the global politics of the 21st century as they relate to, say, China and even groups such as the Islamic State?
Free speech and democracy are not just Western commitments. India has a very long history of pluralism, which is the underlying value. We have chosen a political model that suits us best. Obviously we would not have done so if we did not think highly of it.
Trade and investment between the U.S. and India have expanded enormously, and I see that India recently announced measures to remove more bureaucratic barriers. What else needs to be done in both countries? Be as blunt and specific as you want!
I prefer a broader answer. We are trying to make India an easier place to do business. It is as easy as that. Which, on the ground, of course, is easier said and more challenging to get done. A lot of that is overcoming process issues rather than changing laws. The bottom line, however, is a change of mindset — instill that commitment to improve the business climate, as much for our own business as for foreign investors.
What more can our two countries do together to deal with the challenge of climate change?
We are focusing on renewables and trying to get nuclear power cooperation restarted.
The Indian-American community is fast-growing and increasingly influential; the new U.S. ambassador-designate to your country, as you know, is Richard Verma, the first Indian-American named to that post. What’s the role — and what should be the role — of that community in relations between our countries? How have they been helpful?
The community is a game-changer. It has shaped the American view of India and Indians. Much of the credit for the upswing in our ties goes to those people. As the relationship expands and feeds into the transformation of India, I am confident they will play a still bigger role.
Two related questions. For our U.S. readers, and those elsewhere around the world, what’s the most important thing for them to know about India that they probably don’t know? And for our new Indian readers, what’s the most important thing they need to know about America that they don’t know?
Funnily enough, the answers to the two are the same. At both ends, people don’t fully appreciate how alike we are. We have a work ethic, an individualism, family values and patriotism that are similar. That is why Indians do so well in the U.S.
What do you like most about life in the U.S.? I would ask what you like least, but you are a diplomat.
Like the most? The American attitude. The “can-do” approach. Least? Baseball. It blocks cricket.
Any advice for us on how to cover the news in India?
Can Indian-Americans do us a favor and explain the rules of cricket to sports fans, or have you concluded that that would be a waste of time?
Definitely a waste of time.
I read that Indian officials want to take back control — marketing and branding control, if you will — of yoga, the practice of which is booming in the U.S. and around the world. I’m curious to see what that marketing campaign is going to look like! I’m hereby giving you space in The Huffington Post to make the pitch. Which is?
Yoga is a lifestyle, an awareness. Don’t approach it as a product. No one is trying to control it. It is a grass-roots phenomenon, which is why it is growing.
The New Republic magazine said on Saturday that it would not publish its next issue, but would return to newsstands in February next year, after dozens of its top editors and contributors resigned in the face of a leadership change.
Not so fast with newspapers’ obituary say those in the know, despite the bumpy ride the industry has endured in recent years.
“Each day, more than half the world’s adult population read a daily newspaper: 2.5 billion in print and more than 800 million in digital form,” according to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Its World Press Trends (WPT) 2014 report indicates that despite endless predictions about newspapers’ demise, the industry’s reach has continued to grow and new metrics methodologies demonstrate that newspaper content reaches more people than ever, providing new business opportunities and increased impact.
Also noteworthy is the continuous growth of digital circulations, which the report attributed to the value of high-quality journalism and a result of successful multi-platform business strategies.
The newspaper industry also generates over $160 billion of revenue globally from content sales, advertising revenues and, increasingly, other forms of diversified revenue streams.
“While circulation revenues rose globally after years of decline, advertising revenues continued to fall in 2013,” was one of the findings.
The WPT pointed to a 2012 Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) report that said the US newspaper industry, while still in search of a new business model, loses an estimated $7 in print ad revenue for every $1 earned in digital advertising revenue.
“Unless we crack the revenue issue, and provide sufficient funds so that newspapers can fulfill their societal role, democracy will inevitably be weakened,” said Larry Kilman, WAN-IFRA’s Secretary General who presented the survey to 1,000 publishers, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives at the 66th World Newspaper Congress, 21st World Editors Forum and 24th World Advertising Forum in Turin, Italy.
The role newspapers play in society cannot be underestimated and has never been more crucial, he noted.
“If newspaper companies cannot produce sufficient revenues from digital, if they cannot produce exciting, engaging offerings for both readers and advertisers, they are destined to offer mediocre products with nothing to differentiate them from the mass of faux news,” he said.
Finding the sustainable business models for digital news media is not only important for businesses, but for the future health of debate in democratic society, he added.
“Regionally, 36 per cent of newspapers’ market value is in Asia, 34 per cent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 21 per cent in North America and 9 per cent in Latin America,” the report found.
The survey includes data from over 70 countries, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the global industry’s value.
As content consumers continued to shift their reading to mobile, the report tracked them to determine the numbers involved and the types of devices used.
Smartphones and tablets are delivering remarkable opportunities in audience growth, product diversification, and advertising and content revenues. It is becoming apparent that more devices mean more users for newsbrands and more consumption time. Media audiences worldwide spend more time each day using their digital devices than watching TV.
Which, in turn, requires methods to ensure what’s available is not all a free giveaway.
“There is growing understanding by the public that you get what you pay for, and an increasing willingness to pay for newspaper content on digital platforms,” said Kilman. “With all the free offerings out there, people are still willing to pay for news that is professionally written and edited, that is independent, entertaining and engaging.”
A quick look at the top 50 paid-for daily newspapers in the survey shows Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun taking first billing, with two other Japanese dailies taking second and third place, The Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun.
The remaining 20 were from Japan, China, India, and one from South Korea. No dailies from the Arab world, Africa, South America or Australia made it onto that particular list.
In a side note WAN-IFRA said data it compiled on the news publishing industry was provided with the assistance of a wide variety of contributors, ranging from newspaper associations to individual analysts, working in markets with varying systems of measurement.
But, it cautioned, independent audited measurements did not exist in every market and that some figures were impossible to verify independently, while others were WAN-IFRA’s assessments based on historical and regional trends.
The New York Knicks went up against the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night.
But this matchup was way more entertaining:
And the two have been spotted sharing their love of sports together before.
For a “lame duck” politician who’s supposed to be licking his wounds after the Democratic Party’s steep midterm losses, President Obama these days probably doesn’t mind scanning the headlines each morning. Instead of confirming the slow-motion demise so many in the pundit class had mapped out for him, the headlines paint a picture of a president, and a country, in many ways on the rebound:
That’s probably more good news for Obama in one month than he had in the previous three combined.
And that selection of headlines doesn’t cover news of the most recent smooth and efficient enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, the announcement of Obama’s executive action to deal with the languishing issue of immigration, his high-profile endorsement of net neutrality, or the United States’ landmark agreement with China to confront climate change.
As for Obama’s approval rating, it has remained steady in recent months, just as it has for virtually all of 2014. But aren’t lame ducks supposed to tumble after tough midterm defeats, the way President George W. Bush did right after the 2006 votes?
Meanwhile, the assumption that Republicans had boxed Obama in politically via their midterm momentum and would be able to bully him around (impeachment! a government shutdown!) hasn’t yet come to fruition. To date, their main response to the immigration executive order that Obama issued has been for Republicans to cast a symbolic vote of disapproval (i.e., Obama called their bluff).
Already the bloom seems to be coming off the GOP’s win. “According to the survey, 50 percent of Americans believe the GOP taking control of the House and the Senate next year will be bad for America,” CNN reported this week.
None of this is to say that Obama’s surging or that paramount hurdles don’t remain on the horizon. But some recent developments do undercut a widely held consensus in the Beltway press that Obama’s presidency effectively ended with the midterms and that his tenure might be viewed as a failed one.
Right after the election, a November Economist editorial announced, “Mr. Obama cannot escape the humiliating verdict on his presidency.” Glimmers of hope after the midterms were no reason to think Obama had “somehow crawled out of the dark place that voters put him,” the Washington Post assured readers. (Post columnist Dana Milbank has recently tagged Obama as a hapless “bystander” who’s “turning into George W. Bush.”) And a McClatchy Newspapers headline declared, “President Obama Is Now Truly A Lame Duck.”
But as the facts on the ground now change, many in the press seem reluctant to drop its preferred script and adjust to the headlines that suggest Obama’s second term is not shaping up to be the wreck so many pundits hinted it would be.
It’s worth noting that during Bush’s failed second term, which ended with his approval rating hovering around 20 percent, the same Beltway press did the opposite. Back then the press appeared overly anxious to proclaim a Bush comeback underway. Unlike Obama who’s actually rebounding, the D.C. press often touted Bush’s comeback, even though one never materialized.
At the time of the 2006 midterm elections, NBC’s Chuck Todd predicted that “if Democrats get control of Congress, President Bush’s approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year.” Democrats did win the House and the Senate in 2006, but Todd’s predication was off — by 20 points. Bush was floundering with a 30 percent approval rating on Independence Day, 2007.
Todd was hardly alone. Earlier in 2005, Time got a quick jump on the Bush-is-back competition, announcing that the president had “found his voice” and that relieved White House aides “were smiling again” after a turbulent 2005. That year, according to the Gallup numbers, Bush’s approval rating remained submerged, falling as low as 31 percent. When it briefly climbed to 40 percent, the Baltimore Sun quickly asked, “Is Bush The New Comeback Kid?”
Even when Bush’s approval rating trended down again after the Republicans’ 2006 midterm wipeout, pundits were back on the hunt for the elusive comeback. In early 2007, Washington Post columnist David Broder, the dean of the Beltway press corps, typed up the White House spin and claimed, “It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don’t be astonished if that is the case.” Broder was sure, “Bush now shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.” Thirteen months later, Broder finally conceded the Bush comeback hadn’t materialized. (In fact, the opposite had unfolded.)
The media’s “comeback” double standard seems to reflect the misguided Beltway consensus that America’s a center-right country, so of course it was only a matter of time before Bush regained his footing (he didn’t) and that Obama would likely fade away during his second term (he hasn’t).